By Tatiana Bautzer and Lananh Nguyen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -UBS Group CEO Sergio Ermotti plans to stay at the helm through 2026 to integrate former rival Credit Suisse in a process he likened to a marathon.
"I need to finish the job," Ermotti told the Economic Club of New York on Thursday. "My commitment is to finish the job, and for sure that means staying through the end of 2026. I can't be already thinking about where I would go three months after starting."
The biggest bank merger since the global financial crisis was hastily arranged in March by the Swiss government to avert Credit Suisse's collapse.
During the weekend the deal was struck, Ermotti was at a football game when his phone started to ring.
UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher later called him about rejoining the firm. "It was on Monday morning the chairman of UBS called me and asked me in to see me. I guess I started to suspect it probably was not about having a beer," Ermotti said.
After serving as CEO from 2011 to 2020, Ermotti said he felt a duty to return and steer the bank through the turmoil. Looking ahead, Ermotti pointed to the U.S. and Asia as growth areas. But he cautioned investors may be too confident about the likelihood of soft landing in which the U.S. economy avoids a major recession.
Wealthy clients are flocking to money market funds in the U.S., tempted by higher rates, he added.
And "despite geopolitical tensions with China, Asia is the place to be for the next 10 to 20 years," he said.
UBS said last month it wants to cut $10 billion in costs by the end of 2026 and lay off 3,000 people in Switzerland. Analysts have estimated between 30,000 and 35,000 jobs could be cut globally.
(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer and Lananh Nguyen in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Timothy Gardner)